The Boston Herald

The Duchovny files: 'X-Files' star steps out on a limb with directorial debut

By Stephen Schaefer

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The "D" in David Duchovny's "House of D" does not stand for the "X-Files" star who wrote, directed and acts in this 1970s-era New York City comedy-drama opening Friday.

The titular house refers to Manhattan's long-gone Women's House of Detention, a Gothic prison that once sat in the heart of Greenwich Village and was torn down decades ago, replaced by a garden.

"It was purely a coincidence; I would never name a movie after myself," said the actor turned first-time filmmaker. "But it was always 'House of D'; I never had any other title in my head. If someone had come up with a better title, like 'Titanic 2,' I would have gone for it," he joked.

Only slightly autobiographical, "House of D" has Duchovny as American writer Tom Warshaw, who lives in Paris and reflects back on his East Village youth (as portrayed by Anton Yelchin).

"My father and mother divorced when I was 11, and I think the psychology of a kid like that I understood, but the character of the mother is very different," he said. "What happens in the movie is much more dramatic than anything that happened to me, but that's why you have a movie. So it's not autobiographical that way, but a universal film about growing up and becoming a man. That doesn't matter if it's set in the '70s or what clothes you're wearing or what color you are."

Tom has a chronically depressed mother (Tea Leoni, also known as Mrs. Duchovny); his much older best friend is retarded (Robin Williams); and his friendly adviser is forever unseen, a prisoner (Erykah Badu) who shouts to him from her Women's House of Detention cell. The bright spot is a shy flirtation with a schoolgirl (Zelda Williams, Robin Williams' daughter, in her debut).

"That's why its not 'Women's House of D' and just 'House of D,' " Duchovny said. "As the actual House of D is now a garden, it's how each one of the characters is imprisoned: Robin is unable to grow mentally; the mom played by Tea is imprisoned by her grief and inability to move on after her husband's death; and Erykah is literally imprisoned. This kid has to move on because they can't come with him."

For Duchovny, moving on from "The X-Files" is unlikely. There are vague but likely stirrings for another "X-Files" movie that would reteam him with Gillian Anderson.

"It's Chris Carter's baby," he said, referring to the show's creator and guiding force. "We're in agreement in that we think the movie should be what's known as a standalone episode. You won't have to have knowledge of the mythology of the series to understand the movie, which would make it a sci-fi, action thriller and less about aliens that would continue the story of 'The X-Files.' "

As for being forever known as Fox Mulder, Duchovny, who has turned down offers to return to series television, is thankful for the show that made him rich and famous.

"The show was everything for me," he said. "I can't imagine my career without it. I was able to teach myself in this business how to act, how to write and direct, how to construct a script. Security blankets are nice, but my movie is about throwing those away. At some point, you have to strike out on your own."